Bradley Lukanic
Courtesy CannonDesign Bradley Lukanic

Today, CannonDesign CEO Bradley Lukanic, AIA, announced the merger of his multinational firm with Houston-based architecture firm FKP. Led by CEO Diane Osan, FAIA, FKP also has offices in Dallas and Columbus, Ohio, and has been recognized nationally for its work in healthcare design, particularly for pediatric care. FKP's 90 employees will join CannonDesign's 900-person staff, and together will help expand the new parent firm into Texas and Ohio.

ARCHITECT spoke with Lukanic and Osan about the new partnership.

Brad, what makes FKP the right partner for CannonDesign? And why now?
Bradley Lukanic: CannonDesign is about 102 years old and we have grown up to about 900 people over that time. One of the things that we are seeing in today’s landscape is a greater thirst by our clients for more comprehensive design solutions. So for us, it’s not about diversification, but really amplification of the portfolio. FKP brings to CannonDesign [a quality of design] especially in health, well-being, and pediatric [settings]. It’s about that amplification for a total solution.

Now is the right time, in part, because we believe that the pressures on our clients for creative built solutions are changing. As we start to think about health, well-being, and healthy lifestyles, FKP— around since 1937—has really been at the forefront of pediatrics, and we want to build off of that portfolio. Additionally, they give us strong geographical reach into the Texas marketplace and in the Ohio marketplace, which we did not have.

Diane Osan
Courtesy CannonDesign Diane Osan

Diane, how did this merger come about? Was FKP actively seeking a strategic partner?
Diane Osan: FKP’s been approached by several large global firms about merging over the past few years. Until CannonDesign, we honestly weren’t interested and didn’t see one that had the right alignment of both culture and futuristic, innovative thinking.

But as we’ve watched the marketplace around us change, we knew that we needed more to compete and to stay valuable to our clients. So we began looking around and said "Who in the nation has the culture and has this innovative thinking?" Looking at the leadership [Brad has] brought to Cannon over the past year, and getting to know him and seeing his futuristic thinking, it really caused us to pause and say "Hey, might Cannon be the right partner?" In the conversations that ensued from the spring through the summer, it became really clear to us that we had a huge match in culture and this incredible opportunity.

For me, FKP has always been about creating truly healthy lifestyles and healthy communities, and looking ahead to the future, with Cannon, we will create a much broader and deeper platform and palette, to be able to transform our clients’ environments.

How will the leadership structure change following the merger?
BL: We have two strategic adds to the CannonDesign leadership—Diane will be joining the CannonDesign board of directors, effective at the close of the merger. And Holly Ragan, [managing principal of FKP's Dallas office] will be joining the CannonDesign Core Team, which is our leadership team, to focus on strategy and growth in the Texas marketplace. We believe there are many of ways we can partner with clients in Texas now that the two firms are coming together.

What are your strategies for creating a cohesive culture between the offices?
BL: We believe the quality of the workplace is really important, so we have always maintained a philosophy of encouraging our people to work and partner with clients regardless of their geographic location. So we employ something called sync SFMO—single firm, multi-office—which allows individuals to work on virtually any project anywhere in the world. By bringing in FKP, we have 90 additional people on that will be able to participate in the CannonDesign SFMO process.

When you bring two firms together, the quality of the portfolio and the knowledge base of the portfolio is critically important. As such, CannonDesign will be bringing some folks down to the offices of FKP and vice-versa. Some key individuals in the FKP Columbus office will be partnering with our Chicago office and other areas of the firm. Effective almost immediately, we are going to start infusing at both of those levels.

How will FKP's branding change going forward?
DO: For a period of time, we will be FKP CannonDesign and then ultimately we will [transition] to the CannonDesign name. This is to allow our clients that know the FKP brand in the pediatric field to have time to adjust to the name change.

BL: For us, the brand name and recognition that FKP has in pediatrics is so well known that, while the name will become just CannonDesign in about two years, we did not want to diminish the importance of FKP's brand at the onset of all of this.

What do you foresee as the biggest challenges in merging the firms?
DO: From my perspective, there are not a lot of difficulties in terms of alignment around the culture because I think we are so culturally aligned. Brad and I have such incredible aspirations and I want to bring it on all really rapidly in terms of how we [approach] this shared new world together. I think it’s always challenging to try to do that, while also trying to keep the practices aligned and moving forward.

Note: This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.